Ephesians 1:15-23 – Our Authority in Christ

Hello, friends! Welcome to Christ the King Sunday, a day which reminds us that in the coming Advent season, we look for both a baby and a king. Click the video below and let us acknowledge and worship King Jesus…

There is perhaps no better hymn for this day than Crown Him with Many Crowns:

For a contemporary song, it is appropriate today and every day to Sing to the King:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

The Reign of Christ the King

 
 
In my undergraduate college days, one of the required classes for my major was Philosophy of History taught by a crusty old professor who looked like he was one-hundred ten years old.  Professor Thompson knew that I was a Christian because I always sat in the front of his class taking notes with a Bible on my desk.  One day he came into the classroom and began his lecture by looking directly at me with those beady black eyes of his and said, as only Professor Thompson could say it, “Ehrhardt!  Can God change history?”
 
            My answer was this:  the question is only relevant if God were never in control and sovereign over history to begin with; there is no need to change history if God is actively and continually working out his purposes in and through history.  So, a more appropriate question would be:  Since God is Lord over all history, will we submit to him? 
 
            In difficult times, it is only human to wonder if God is really sovereign over all the earth.  When terrorists kill others; when natural disasters claim countless lives; when Christianity is seen as a threat to many; with such realities we might ask ourselves – Can God change history?
 
            Even though Christ’s reign is invisible and seems limited and temporary, it will ultimately be visible and is pervasive and permanent (Revelation 1:4-8).  Faithful believers in the first centuries of the church would witness to their faith and tell others about the redemptive events of Jesus and that, since Jesus is alive, others can experience new life.  They were effective enough to alter the social order of things, which brought persecution and, in some cases, death.  These men and women were killed proclaiming their devotion to Jesus, witnessing to others.  So, the term “witness” or “martyr” began to refer to those who were killed for their proclamation of the gospel.  In doing this, they saw themselves as only emulating and following in the way of their sovereign Lord Jesus, who was himself a faithful martyr.  Just as Jesus died proclaiming the kingdom of God and people’s need to submit to it, so the earliest believers needed to see their solidarity with their Lord so that they would not falter and give in to being silent.
 
Jesus is Lord of both good days and bad days.  Our faith cannot be dependent upon our circumstances because it is the blood of Jesus that has freed us to live for God no matter what the situation we have before us.  We overcome only on the ground of the blood of Christ – not because everything goes our way.  We overcome our consciences, bad tempers, defeats, lusts, fears, and pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb.  Jesus frees us! The goal of the church is not having a wonderful existence without any adversity; the goal is to know Jesus Christ, and him crucified, dead, risen and ascended. 
 
As believers in Jesus we have continual access and unconditional acceptance of God through his blood.  We can intercede for others directly by going straight to God.  Just as Jesus has unlimited access to the Father, so, the Christian has the ability and the privilege of coming to God at all times.  Christians are a kingdom of priests where every believer intercedes for other believers, and even for the world which persecutes them.
 
While we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus, we do not idly wait.  We intercede for the world.  We proclaim the gospel to all the earth.  We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Nothing in this world can ever deprive us of grace and peace.  No circumstance or adverse situation, no terrorist or natural disaster, no ornery people, no other person can take away Jesus from us.  So, with this security, assurance, and blessing we are free to rescue others from the coming judgment.
 

 

The reign of Jesus Christ elicits some probing questions:  Will we be faithful to Jesus by being faithful witnesses?  Will we live into the new life offered to us?  Will we submit to King Jesus?  Jesus is worthy of our praise.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.  His kingdom will never end.  Since this is true, we are meant to serve God.  In life and in death, we belong to God.  We are not our own; we were bought at a price.  Therefore we are to serve God in the ways he wants us to serve.  “Can God change history?” is not really the question we should be asking.  Since God has changed history forever in the sending of the Son, what will we do with him?  

Colossians 1:15-23

            Jesus is King; and, we are not.  A simple statement; yet, not easily engrafted into life.  The original sin of Adam and Even was rebellion – to break the bonds of loving authority that God provided for them.  We (especially us Americans) have this nasty anti-authoritarian strain that runs rather deep in us.  As a child, when my middle daughter was grappling with the implications of faith in Christ, she once blurted out an honest cry that we all can resonate with: “I just don’t want another person in my life telling me what to do!”  Indeed, Jesus is King; we are not.
 
            The New Testament lesson for today is rich with the pre-eminence and lordship of Jesus Christ.  By Jesus all things were created through him and for him.  Everything in all creation is held together by Jesus.  He is the head of the church.  In Jesus complete divinity exists and reigns.  Jesus made peace through the cross because he had the authority and the qualifications to do so.  Broken relationships and proper lines of authority are now restored and redeemed in Christ.
 
            We all can relate to indulging an illusion that we are in control and dictate the course of our lives.  But Jesus is Sovereign, and this is a good thing.  It is good because only in Christ can we find reconciliation and purity of life.  A healthy practice for Christians is to kneel.  I realize some Christian traditions do it as a part of their worship, and some do not.  Yet, bowing, even prostrating oneself (if you are physically able!) can be a powerful symbol of the heart’s desire and disposition to submit to the lordship and authority of Jesus Christ.  Crawling out of bed in the morning onto one’s knees and beginning the day looking to live into the will of God, and ending the day in the same manner, are a practical means of remembering who Jesus is and who we are.
            Sovereign God, in your mercy you have sent your Son, the Lord Jesus, who has brought reconciliation to a once broken relationship.  I bow before you in obedience, submission, and worship.  Let me live a cross-shaped life through enjoying the peace you have given me in Christ.  Amen.

Acts 1:1-11

            Today is the recognition and celebration of the Ascension of our Lord.  Each year the Church Calendar marks the fortieth day after Easter when Jesus ascended to heaven in full view of the disciples’ wide eyes.  Unlike Christmas and Easter, the Ascension is quite often overlooked by the church.  Yet, it has profound theological significance and is a redemptive event as much as any in the life of Christ.
 
            The Ascension of our Lord means that Jesus is indeed King over all creation, exalted above the earth and its inhabitants.  Since Jesus is ascended, glorified, and exalted, Christians have the confident hope that he will return and that they will experience bodily resurrection along with him.  During the interim, our Lord is busy interceding for us at the right hand of the Father, attentive to our prayers and our earthly situation.  We are neither alone, nor without help.
 
            Christ’s Ascension also means that Pentecost is right around the corner, when the power of our risen Lord will come upon every believer for service and living the Christian life.    The appropriate response to this special day is to rejoice and to submit; we can celebrate the reality that King Jesus is Lord of all, and we can humbly give our hearts to Christ’s gracious and benevolent rule in our lives.  So, we continue to pray that God’s kingdom will come and his will be done here and now because Jesus Christ has ascended to heaven.
            King Jesus, I recognize and celebrate your powerful and merciful rule over your creation.  Help me to so know your gracious leadership that in everything I say and do Jesus is exalted and glorified.  Thank you for this great grace to me in making it possible to participate with you in your kingdom.  Amen.